There was a time when painting a room in your home meant opening all the windows, turning on a fan, and evacuating for a few hours to avoid inhaling the chemical smells. If you wanted a healthier alternative, your options were limited to fringe paint brands that didn't perform as well as their unhealthy counterparts. Thankfully, those days are over. Many major paint brands now offer low and no-VOC paints, and other smaller, independent paint companies have improved their formulas and expanded their color palettes. Here are a few of the best brands to consider for your next painting job:
A bit of background: According to the EPA, the average home's interior air is three times more polluted than outdoor air, and interior paints are often the prime suspect for the source of this indoor pollution. Volatile organic compounds can slowly off-gas for years after initial application. Thankfully, it is now fairly easy to find and purchase "non-toxic" formulas made from natural raw ingredients like water, milk casein, natural latex, plant oils and resins, plant dyes and essential oils, or paints with formulations containing VOCs in the range of 5 grams/litre or less per can. (Technically, these do still contain toxic ingredients; adding a color tint usually pushes the VOC level over 5 grams/liter, and sometimes even up to 10 grams/liter).
Best Non-Toxic Interior Paints
1 Benjamin Moore Aura and Natura: Both the Aura line (low VOC) and the Natura line (no VOC) are made with 100% acrylic paint that is easy to apply, covers well, and and dries in about an hour. The Natura line is one of my personal favorite paints. I've used it for a few projects and have no complaints!
2 Bioshield Clay and Casein paints: These powder-based paints are made with naturally occurring earthborn clays and pigments. No-odor, non-toxic, and no VOC.
3 Yolo Colorhouse: This water-based, Green Seal certified, and zero-VOC paint was created by Portland, Oregon-based artists Virginia Young and Janie Lowe. The palette of 40 hues are specifically designed for interiors and categorized by nature's spectrum of air, grain, leaf, water, stone, clay and the bright hued petal range. The packaging is also lovely.
4 Sherwin-Williams Harmony Interior Latex: A Good Housekeeping choice, the Harmony line uses sustainable raw materials, like soy and sunflower oil, in their formulation to keep solvent content low and VOCs in the zero-VOC range. Advertised as mildew and bacteria resistant.
5 Green Planet Paints: Soy-based resins with clay formulations and mineral pigments keep this line of paint "as organic as your farmer's market produce." We also like that they disclose all ingredients in their paint formulas right there on the can.
6 The Old-Fashioned Milk Paint Company: Milk paint comes in a powder form to which water is added. It's biodegradable, solvent-free, odorless and completely free of VOCs. Adheres to almost all clean, porous surfaces.
7 Homestead House Paint Company: designed to evoke the look and feel of milk paint, this 100% acrylic paint performs well on top of existing previous applications, so no stripping or sanding necessary.
8 Dunn-Edwards EcoShield: an MPI Green Performance Standard rated product, the low odor EcoShield line was created initially for use in schools, hospitals, hotels, homes and other closed-ventilation buildings, and is ethylene glycol free.
10 Anna Sova Latex Wall Paint: the eco-branded Healthy Wall Finish contains 99% food grade ingredients, making this no-VOC paint a good choice for interior with children and pregnant women.
11 AFM Safecoat: AFM Safecoat has really great palettes. We also use them for all of our bases, white trim paint, and stains and sealers. They have a no-VOC line called Ayurveda Essence that has fantastic colors (108 of them!) in flat, eggshell, and semi-gloss.
12 Mythic Paint: Mythic Paint has a huge amount of colors available, and they're all fantastic. Our editors have used them plenty of times and they're a running favorite. Non-toxic, ultra low odor paint.
Do you have a favorite eco-friendly paint?
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• 5 Ways To Extend the Life of Your Paint Job
• The Paint Exchange: Recycle, Reuse, Repaint
(Image: Earthborn Paint)